The Minister for the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources, Loknath Sharma, introduced the Biological Corridor (BC) Nine Bill of Bhutan in the National Council today.
While introducing the Bill, the minister said that the concern for the proposed biological corridor is that it will come as restriction to the people.
The minister said that, till now, there has been no connection between the Bumdeling Wildlife Sanctuary and Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary. The new biological corridor will connect two sanctuary areas, covering five gewogs of Trashi Yangtse and one gewog of Trashigang. The declaration of the BC will be advantageous to the community.
The MPs questioned whether, with the declaration of a biological corridor, there would be restrictions on construction activities, clearing the corridor for the installation of transmission lines, or any commercial activities, and whether the government would support those communities falling in the BC.
The Minister responded that there will be no restriction and that it will be as usual, rather people will benefit from the BC. From the projects in BC, the community may get a water pipeline, and farm roads may be extended. There is possibility of eco-tourism in the area, and the locals will get to see new people. Bird-watching activities can be improved. There can also be tiger conservation. Non-wood forest products will be available. There is scope for organic farming, and human wildlife will be taken care of.
The minister informed the House that the government had proposed a project fund for the Bhutan Trust Fund. The minister hopes that the Members of the NC will support the Bill.
The new biological corridor covers areas encompassing parts of Teotsho, Yalang, Khamdang, Bumdeling, and Trashiyantse gewogs under Trashyangtse dzongkhag and part of Phongme gewog under Trashigang dzongkhag.
A team from Trashigang Forest Division was tasked to plan and conduct the assessment in 22 Gewogs of Trashigang and Trashiyangtse Dzongkhags (14 in Trashigang and 8 in Trashiyangtse) covering an total area of 2080.92 sq.km. The biodiversity surveys and public consultations were done during the months of September to December 2021 during which the team also presented the plans and findings to the Dzogngkhag Thogdue meetings at Trashiyangste and Trashigang on 16/04/2021 and 09/09/2021 respectively. The field survey recommended areas falling within the 5 gewogs of Trashigangtse and 1 gewog of Trashigang as shown in map 2. However, for ease in identification of the boundaries on the ground of the proposed BC, realignment of the border was done following the natural and identifiable features such as river, gewog/dzongkhag boundary, mountain ridges, etc, and the new proposed BC.
The proposed area for the new biological corridor is 216 km2 and, the rapid biodiversity assessment along the proposed area recorded 124 bird species, 25 mammals and 227 floral species, the corridor is also a home to some of the globally threatened mammal species.
The length of the proposed biological corridor is approximately 60.2km (center line) and covers areas encompassing the part of Teotsho, Yalang, Khamdang, Bumdeling and Trashiyantse gewogs under Trashyangtse dzongkhag and part of Phongme gewog under Trashigang dzongkhag. Of the 6 Gewogs, there are no settlements in the proposed BC area under the three gewogs of Khamdang and Trashiyantse under Trashiyangste, and Phongmey under Trashigang Dzongkhags. The remaining three gewogs recorded 363 HHs spread across 7 chiwogs (as detailed in the table) within 3.8% of the proposed corridor. The proposed area also recorded 4.36km farm road. The household density inside the BC is approximately 2 hh/km² but are clustered in three Gewogs. Villages of eight Chiwogs fall inside the BC spread across 7.95 km² of the proposed corridor.
Sangay Rabten from Thimphu